I just returned from 9 days stay at the Mana Island Resort (October, 2007). I rely on trip reports for making decisions about vacations so I offer my impression for other people that do the same thing. I have traveled the South Pacific a few times and I have developed what I believe to be a reasonable expectation of the area. I’ll just address what seems to be a major issue in other reports I have read about the Mana Island Resort – the food. Let me just say one thing: remember where you are and why you are there. I traveled to Fiji and specifically Mana Island for the wonderful beaches and good diving (and it was good). I did not go there for the food. I do not go to 5-star restaurants at home and complain because there is no beach – so I don’t go to the beach and complain because there are no 5-star restaurants. Now, having said that I will say further that I felt the food at Mana was mediocre at best. I took into account that the resort
is rather remote and must import just about everything it serves. Couple that with the fact that they have a very limited customer base (their guests are about the only people on the island) and it doesn’t take long to understand the challenges that would face food service in
such a place. I found the nightly buffet to be perfectly adequate, it wasn’t going to win any awards but I was never hungry (it was approximately $30 US dollars per person). Eating out under the stars and listening to the 4-man entertainment group was more than enough to make the nights memorable for me. The daily breakfast is included with your room. There was a reasonable variety but I’ll admit it was basically the same thing every day. I ate one time at the restaurant and had a lamb dish that was out of this world. My travel companion had lobster that was somewhat disappointing. Again, considering where we were, we found our expectations were not out of line. One suggestion to the resort – since you are not an all inclusive and you charge for meal service you might want to invest some effort in stepping up the quality to reduce the complaints. Otherwise, become an
all-inclusive and build the food price into your room rates – that will set the right expectations.
On to other things - the beaches. I loved the beaches at Mana. The horizon is filled with other islands which made for great pictures. Both the south beach and the north beach have reef systems that are close to shore and make for nice snorkeling. The tide goes out on the north beach by noon so snorkeling and swimming is best in the morning.
You can easily snorkel and swim in the afternoon on the south beach.
Take some bread while snorkeling to feed the fish – they love it and its fun to have them swimming all around you. Be prepared that the fish are used to this, even without offerings they will swim right up close to you looking for handouts. One thing that was disappointing to
see was the number of Crown of Thorns on the reef. Although beautiful,
these destructive animals actually eat the reef. I’m not a conservationist but I would suggest the resort explore the viability of harvesting these animals in order to protect the reef. Both beaches
were very calm and comfortable for swimming. You probably want reef shoes here since there can be things in the water like rocks and shells in some places. Not enough to make it uncomfortable but enough to taunt my tender Midwestern feet on occasion.
We stayed in an ocean front bure. There are two groups of ocean front bures, each situated in a half-circle on the north beach. I would only
consider the two end units as true “ocean front”. There was a good deal of vegetation in front of the rest of the bures and they were actually far enough from the beach to make me question their “ocean front” status. That’s being spoiled though since I’ve stayed in overwater and true ocean front bungalows. The advantage the ocean front bures do have over the garden ones is the relative closeness to the beach but also some of the garden bures shared a common wall with a second unit. All the ocean front bures are free standing so you have
better privacy. The bure was very comfortable with plenty of air conditioning and hot water. I did notice that the honeymoon bures are not on a very good section of beach, especially at low tide. Getting to a good beach is not much effort so it may not be a big deal.
Every evening at 5:00 they have happy hour at the pool bar where you can play bingo. This was fun so don’t miss it. It’s a good chance to meet & talk with other guests. Happy hour beers dropped from $5.50 Fiji (about $4.00 US) to $3.85 Fiji (about $2.80). You have two choices, Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter – both were very good, much like Bud and Bud Light really. Mixed drinks were fine, I heard no complaints other than they were a little expensive ranging from $9.00 to $12.00 Fiji. Bottled water is readily available at the gift shop for around $5.00 Fiji for a large bottle.
Some people complained about the resort catering to the Asian traveler. I saw no evidence of this at all other than the fact they went to the trouble to include some Asian food selections at the buffet. I thought this was considerate and actually a chance for me to try some new things.
The resort itself is sprawled over a large area. You’ll walk a little bit to get around to all their offerings and activities. This was actually nice since you can find quiet spots easily.
The resort is extremely casual. Casual resort wear was fine for dinner. Most people at the buffet were in t-shirts actually. I wore khaki shorts and a golf shirt to the restaurant and was one of the better dressed people there. I only had lunch at the south beach restaurant (that’s the one with the nice picture on their website with tables on the beach). The lunch was very good and they will even deliver it in to-go containers if you wish to eat on the beach.
The only annoying thing was the fact that you had to sign a ticket for every single drink and food item you order. Everything is charged to your room. The bartenders would offer to “hold a ticket open” only to find that it was closed while you were enjoying your drink and a copy of the ticket wasn’t available for you. I had to pay particular attention to insist that I get a copy of every ticket. This seemed to annoy the bartenders but not to the extent that it was any problem. I wonder if maybe they thought I didn’t trust them. At any rate, my checkout bill at the end of my stay was exactly right so maybe I worried too much about it.
We did a two-tank dive with the resort dive shop. Diving in Fiji is popular and we were not let down. We had two very nice dives and the staff are professional and friendly.
Transportation was very easy. The ferry boat ride from Nadi was really
enjoyable (took about 90 minutes). They stop at a few resorts on the way so it’s a nice chance to see the other options. The boat had sun decks and an air conditioned interior with a small food/drink bar.
The best thing about Fiji, and it resonated at Mana Island, was the people – they were such incredibly nice people. Like anywhere else, treat them with a warm smile and a hearty BULA and they will return the favor ten-fold.
I rate destinations on whether or not I’d return. I would definitely return to Fiji but would probably try one of the other resorts. That is not a comment on Mana – I highly recommend Mana, I just saw so many
other options that I’d want to try a new one on a return visit.
I welcome emails if you have any questions I’ve not answered – I’ll answer what I can.
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- Also Known As:
- Mana Island Hotel Mana Island